After making a dream Tour de France debut earlier this year, MTN-Qhubeka (to be known as Dimension Data next season) are eyeing up even bigger goals for 2016. The African team claimed their first Grand Tour stage in July but, with the addition of riders such as Mark Cavendish, they are looking to add to that tally and even take home their first overall classification and a jersey to boot.
“All the possibilities are there and we’ll try to win more stages because we don’t have a GC rider. At the moment, I think that we’ll have the same strategy as we did this year, to race aggressively and to be visible and to go for a jersey,” team MTN-Qhubeka boss Doug Ryder told Cyclingnews in Paris ahead of the presentation of the 2016 Tour de France route.
“To have a rider stand on the Champs Elysees at the end in front of the whole world with our brand, after hard three weeks of racing and lots of commitment and sacrifice, I don’t think there would be a dry eye across the whole African continent and to the team that would be significant. Our progression would be so unbelievable, that would be amazing. It’s an objective for sure.”
With Cavendish on-board, a shot at the Tour’s green jersey would be a real possibility in 2016. “Wouldn’t that be nice with Dimension Data and the green. It would be fantastic, it would be unbelievable,” Ryder said, he’s not just relying on the Manxman to deliver the goods. “Potentially with Merhawi (Kudus) we could go for the young rider’s jersey, that’s a possibility.
The bigger picture
MTN-Qhubeka has been on a swift upwards trajectory since gaining their Pro Continental licence in 2013. This year saw some big changes in the set up with the signing of a number of experienced non-African riders coming in, such as Edvald Boasson Hagen, while Cavendish has joined the team for 2016. The decision was met with some criticism as some believed they have turned their focus away from the original goal of furthering African cycling.
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